The expression of teacher competencies in action research field: the case – based study of KTU teacher education program "Pedagogy"
Kaunas University of Technology
Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, University College Dublin, 7-10 September 2005
The present day’s teacher faces the necessity to understand governmental education policy in the frame of world – wide and European issues. The function of the teacher as the knowledge evaluator is not satisfactory any more. Teacher’s work, which was understood as a limited teaching practice, nowadays is developing into a many – folded activity. Globalisation, multicultural social environment demands from the present day teacher not only being a good class manager and leader of the pupils’ development but also demonstrating problem solving and decision – making competence outside the classroom. In this context action research creates a possibility for the development of teacher’s contemporary competencies’ thesaurus. For this reason the purpose of the research was to investigate the variety of the competencies that a future or a re-qualifying teacher acquires while performing action research.
The research sample consists of the 46 students of KTU re-qualifying program "Pedagogy" final theses (n=46) and 1121 quotation items, taken from the final theses. The research data support the hypothesis that action research provides the positive environment for the development of intercultural and pedagogical professional competencies.
The contemporary changing society and its reality pose high requirements to all professional specialists. Teachers are not an exception. Transformations inspire them to learn, to look for new ways and qualities of learning, to analyze the dynamic change and its reasons, because only a life –long learner can become a competent, competitive, wise, emancipated personality who ensures the successful development of legal justice, democracy and social welfare (P.F. Drucker, 1993; J.Chapman, 1996).
Such reality lays a special emphasis on totally new competencies such as management of the educational process, critical thinking, and the analysis of problems, decision-making, and the constant development of the professional mastery (P.Juceviciene, D.Lepaite, 2002; O.Visockiene, 2002; S.Saulenienė, 2003; V.Zydziūnaite, 2003).
The present day teacher should not only provide the transmission of the current information, he/she should also stimulate the process of learning, while being positive about the constant change (M.Fulan, 1998, L.Stoll, D.Fink, 1998, A.Hargreaves, 1999). Having in mind that transferable competencies, reflection of action, ability to learn from personal experience and perform action research while training teachers, play an immense role in teaching practice it is necessary to emphasise the importance of action research and self-assessment of personal activities. In this context while trying to respond to the contemporary tendencies of teacher training it is possible to determine the following problem question:
Does action research create a possibility for the development of teacher’s contemporary competencies’ thesaurus?
The purpose of theresearch is to investigate the variety of the competencies that a future or a re-qualifying teacher acquires while performing action research.
The objectives of the research may be defined as follows:
To analyse the structure of the contemporary teaching competence, which is important for the quality of teaching practice;
To perform the qualitative analysis of the final theses presented by the students of KTU re-qualifying program "Pedagogy".
The following theoretical concepts form the methodological framework for the research:
The concept of new teacher’s roles
The concept of competence
The concept of action in the research.
The following research methods were applied in the research:
Scientific literature analysis
Documentary analysis reveals the basic governmental political concepts concerning the development of teachers’
Content analysis of the final theses presented by the students of KTU re-qualifying program "Pedagogic". The research sample consists of the 46 final theses (n=46) of the "Pedagogic "students and
A hypothesis of the research paper argues that the performance of the action research creates a positive environment for the development of the qualitatively new teaching competencies.
The research paper consists of two parts. The first part is devoted to the analysis of the contemporary approach to teacher’s roles, teacher’s competence concept. This part also includes some discussion on theoretical findings concerning action research as the way revealing the theoretical presupposition for the development of new teaching competencies. The second part presents research methodology and analysis of the research findings.
1. New teaching roles and contemporary competencies in the present day teaching reality
The resent Lithuanian research data (V.Tumėnienė, B.Janiūnaitė, 2002, 2004; D.Lepaitė, 2001; P.Jucevičienė, 1999, 2001; D.Lepaitė, P.Jucevičienė, 2000) demonstrate that traditional teaching functions may be defined as presentation of the information, organisation and coordination of the teaching/ learning process, subject teaching, consulting, training and educating of the students. These functions are represented by the identical teaching roles.
As it is stated in the European educational dimension context, the traditional teaching roles have a tendency to change while acquiring new qualitative aspects of activity. A contemporary teacher is turned into a researcher, psychologist, facilitator of teaching / learning processes, inspirator of a meaningful change, philosopher, social pedagogue, innovator, clinicist, cooperating colleague, mentor, etc. In order to perform the above-mentioned functions and roles any teacher needs new competencies.
The concept ‘competence’ is defined as a holistic unit consisting of a set of minor competencies. It may be also interpreted as a specific knowledge in a concrete subject. In order to point out the difference between the ‘competence’ and ‘competencies’ it is necessary to rely on the concept of ‘competencies’ in a ‘competence’ (J.Sandberg, 1994), which reveals the relationship between a person and his/her activity. Competence becomes a normative category (L.Svensson and J.Theman, 1983). Minor competencies, defined as the components of the holistic competence, enable to describe the quality of action performed by a person. For this reason scientists argue on the issue of the interior transformative ‘competencies in the competence’. Holistic idea of the competence (S.Otter, 1992) not only stresses knowledge and skills, but also personal qualities and values, the ability to implement accumulated potential and experience in activity (J.Bowden & F.Marton, 1998).
The group of Lithuanian scientists (head - P.Juceviciene, members - A.Alisauskas, J.Ambrukaitis, A.Augustiniene, N.Bankauskiene, M.Barkauskaite, R.Ciuzas, V.Glebuviene, B.Janiunaite, D.Lepaite, M.Masaitis, M.Miskiniene, O.Monkeviciene, A.Ramanauskaite, J.Ruskus, S.Sauleniene, N.Saugeniene, V.Stanisauskiene, 2004) after performing a detailed study of Lithuanian and foreign scientific literature and analysis of educational documents (‘Educational guidelines’, 2002, ‘Educational strategic issues for 2003 – 2012’, etc.) recommended the following structure of teachers’ competence:
1. Intercultural competence;
2. Pedagogical-professional competence is further subdivided into:
a) Transferable competencies –
learning to learn competence;
competence of the effective action;
competence of the information management;
project management competence;
action research competence;
b) General pedagogiccompetence -
the competence to implement educational ideas and IT;
the competence to promote active and innovative learning environments and programs;
the competence to motivate and support the pupils;
c) Special pedagogic competence –
pre-elementary educational competence;
elementary educational competence
general and secondary educational competence;
competence of special education;
competence of career education;
competence of informal training.
Intercultural competence includes knowledge, values, skills, attitudes and other personal qualities that influence successful personal action in a concrete culture. The components of transferable competencies are knowledge, values, skills and other personal qualities that are necessary for any human activity and are possible to transfer from one activity to another: for example, transferable communicative competence can be a compound of other performative competencies.
Discussion on the transferable competencies definition (’general’, ‘transformative’, ‘transferable’ and so on) has just started. It is worth to mention that these competencies are universal, independent from the influence of professional activity.
General pedagogical competence comprises teacher’s knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and other personal qualities, that are necessary for a successful educational activity. It is not specified according the educational levels. Benchmark Information on the Standard for Initial Teachers Education in Scotland (2000) demonstrates the interrelation between the separate general pedagogical competence aspects.
Special pedagogical competence consists of teacher’s values, attitudes, skills, professional knowledge and other personal qualities that influence the success of teacher’s activity in a concrete educational area.
The above listed competencies and their components are being developed through long-life learning. As it is declared in the Long-life learning Memorandum ‘the most valuable thing is the human ability to use effectively and efficiently personal knowledge in a constantly changing environment <…>, individual learning motivation and the variety of learning possibilities is the essential presupposition for the successful long-life learning’.
This context stresses the importance of the metalearning competence (N.Longworth, 1999, P.Juceviciene, 2001). Once more it is necessary to point out the competence of professional management of personal development guidelines, which are revealed first of all in the one loop learning circle while answering the question ‘what have I done?’, later starting the double-loop learning based on reflection of the performed action and finally entering the triple loop learning, which brings forward the analysis of the acquired competencies, connected with self observation, reflection and further development of teaching activity.
Action research is connected with the name of K. Lewin (1946) who presented the concept of action integration into the experimental research of social sciences. He pointed out the three steps of spiral process, consisting of planning, action and the identification of the final results. The whole process stresses the cooperative action and the team- work. S. Corey (1949, 1953) was one of the first who implemented action research in education. He argued that specialists could make better decisions and work more effectively, if the research became a part of decision-making and their results were used for future action modification.
Action research is a cooperative research enabling its participants to take systematic actions while solving the specific problems. It is a team-work, which helps to form the competence of change management. It is a qualitative research without future prognosis.
Action research came into Lithuanian education in 1997 after APPLE courses for Lithuanian educators. The very research question implies the double loop learning and the further action improvement. The relationship between the researcher and the research subjects stimulates the mutual reflection. As L. Jovaisa states (1993), reflection improves self-identification, critical thinking, practical action and its performance.
Relying on J. Roderick (1999), B. Janiūnaite (2004), it is possible to state that teachers’ self-reflection and action research is useful not only for teacher‘s personal development, but also for the whole school community. Action research provides more detailed information about school life, urges any teacher to look for new teaching forms and methods. The research data can be also used for the development of new educational strategies and policies. Teacher’s reflection and research present the detailed analysis of the investigated cases, rules and patterns, which can be used by the teacher training staff. Thus, action research provides the context for critical analysis of the existing theories, for creating the alternative ones. As R.J.Arends (1998) points out, action research through reflection and self-assessment creates the positive environment for competence development, which may be revealed with the help of teacher’s competence development diary and competence portfolio.
2. Pedagogical Competencies’ Variety Expression in the Qualitative Analysis of the "Pedagogy" Program Students’ Final Theses
In 2004, in November and 2005 July there was performed the qualitative analysis of the "Pedagogy "program students’ final theses. All students study at Kaunas University of Technology, faculty of social sciences. The students, finishing one year of re-qualifying studies, had to present the qualification final theses, based on action research.
The aim of the research was to check the hypotheses stating that through performing action research it is possible to acquire the contemporary teacher’s competencies.
The research was performed fulfilling the following steps:
The conceptual framework of the research was justified defining the concrete clarification of the teacher’s competencies, expressed in students final theses (see table 1).
Research data: the manifestation of Cross-cultural competence
Definition of the competence
|1. Cross-cultural competence includes knowledge, values, skills, attitudes and other personal qualities that influence successful personal action in a concrete culture.||1. The teacher knows how to develop the European or international dimension into cross-cultural activities with other teachers of several disciplines and has to implement the European & international dimension in cross-cultural activities||
1.1. Respect to different cultures, the understanding of national changes, skills to use the information about cultural variety in life and education.
…together with teachers of history and Lithuanian language, I prepared a course on national tolerance concerning Jewish problems…
1.2. Skills to cherish nation and European traditions, accepting cultural differences and minding national identity.
…I suggested the art project, which aimed to compare new and old things from every day life, especially those brought from European countries.
Pupils made a lot of photographs from their parents’ homes.
1.3. Skills to analyse and evaluate Lithuanian and European educational tendencies
School reform opens wide possibilities to compare European and Lithuanian students achievement
According to R. Barnett (1994), J. Delors (1996), D. Lepaite, P. Juceviciene (2002, 2003), A. Novoa and M. Lawn (2002); P. Juceviciene, V. Brazdeikis (2003); V. Tumeniene, B. Janiunaite (2004); N.Bankauskiene & oth. (2004); V. Budiene (2004) the context of European educational dimensions creates a qualitatively new space for teaching action, which makes the teacher to respond to the social demands of the above mentioned context and take new, untraditional roles in the educational surroundings. It is not enough to be a good specialist in a subject teaching. He/she has to acquire not only new professional skills, but also to understand the main reasons of the paradigmatic change and its consequences (A. Augustiniene, 2004; N. Ciuciulkiene, 2004).
During the content qualitative analysis of student’s theses 46 students works were analysed while looking for the expressions of competencies and their evidence. The most noticeable competencies appeared to be the pedagogical professional and intercultural competencies. In order to reach more clear view of the defined competencies, students’ theses were segmented into quotations dealing with the definition of the competence expression content. The total number of segmented quotations is 1121. In this stage the research sample becomes 1121 (n=1121), which is further categorized according phenomenographic content analysis.
Cross–cultural competence has three main components revealed through three subcategories that demonstrate teachers’ openness towards European and world educational inheritance, their motivation to bring to life contemporary educational ideas and directions: "…I suggested the art project, which aimed to compare new and old things from every day life, especially those brought from European countries. …Pupils made a lot of photographs from their parents’ homes", to manage basic future strategies and tendencies: "School reform opens wide possibilities to compare European and Lithuanian students’ achievement". Cross cultural competence and its implied aspect of social impact reveals the importance of pedagogical professional competence.
As it is seen from the categorization data, the most frequent subcategories reveal the importance of skills to analyze and evaluate Lithuanian and European educational tendencies (quotation number - 161); competence of information management (quotation number – 182), research competence (quotation number – 173).
This fact testifies teachers’ competence to analyse and evaluate European and Lithuanian educational traditions and tendencies ("School reform opens wide possibilities to compare European and Lithuanian students achievement"), to manage the information and work with it: "…I collect and analyze all information that I get from the discussion with my pupils". This competence is fixed and revealed with the help of action research: "…I am able to perform my action research: I can form research question, I can write research diary, make content analysis…"
This shows that teachers while performing action research are able to connect concrete curriculum and educational cultural context, to reflect it and define the most important priorities for the future action.
Teaching activities and action research help the teachers to perceive what competencies they already possess and what competencies they are still to develop.
Research data: the manifestation of Pedagogical-professional competence
While performing teaching activities he/ she enhances his/her transferable competencies such as researching competence, self assessment competence, information and knowledge management competence. While performing the research, negotiating and discussing current problems and questions, the teacher develops his/her pedagogical professional competence, which is revealed while developing pupils’ motivation and support competencies, pupils’ knowing and assessment social – cultural competencies.
Still the content analysis data do not reveal the facts that teachers might raise the question about their participation in cultural social life. Teachers prefer to lay stress on didactic and methodological impact on their students: "…I always stimulate students for project evaluation…"
As the research was performed in one institution, the research results cannot be extrapolated for generalizing. Still it is possible to draw some conclusions stressing the basic tendencies pattern.
After performing scientific literature analysis it is possible to state, that the present day teaching competence consists of two main parts: cross-cultural and pedagogical professional competencies. The content of current pedagogical competencies changes the main teaching functions and roles. Traditional functions and roles have gained new qualitative aspects, which influence the whole thesaurus of teaching roles. For this reason the contemporary teaching roles and functions acquired new positions such as teacher being the learning process facilitator, educational change manager, mentor, researcher, social pedagogue and innovator. These roles are successfully fulfilled while performing the action research.
The content analysis of the "Pedagogy" students’ final theses confirmed that:
The leading competence is pedagogical professional competence, in the context of which competence of information management and research are revealed.
Teaching activities and action research help the teachers to develop his/her transferable competencies such as researching competence, self assessment competence, change, information and knowledge management competence while performing the research, negotiating and discussing current problems and questions.
Cross-cultural competence demonstrates teachers’ openness towards European and world educational inheritance, their motivation to bring to life contemporary educational ideas and directions, to manage basic future strategies and tendencies.
Though teachers tend to be opened for changes and innovations, they do not pose the problem of social educational impact. Teachers prefer to lay stress on didactic and methodological impact on their students.
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This document was added to the Education-Line database on 19 January 2006